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Medical Education FAQ [1/2] ( FAQ) [v2.6]
Section - 3. Applying to Medical School

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Top Document: Medical Education FAQ [1/2] ( FAQ) [v2.6]
Previous Document: 2. The MCAT
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3.1) What is the timeline for admissions?

  AMCAS (cf 3.3) begins accepting applications on June 1.  After
  receiving your application and school transcripts, you will receive
  a Transmittal Notification from AMCAS, which means that schools have
  been sent your central application.  After evaluating your
  application, schools can choose to have you continue the process by
  completing a supplementary application (cf 3.8) and after further
  evaluation, an interview (cf Section 4).  Some schools are on a
  "rolling admissions" system where applicants can hear about an
  admissions decision fairly soon after interviewing.  Other schools
  wait until late in the season to send decision letters.  More
  information can be found in the MSAR (cf 1.4), the AMCAS application
  materials, and school admissions brochures.

3.2) Where can I find a list of medical schools?

  The MSAR (cf 1.4) has a list of all of the medical schools in the US
  and Canada accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education
  (LCME) <>.  On the Internet, you can find this
  same list at <>.

3.3) What is AMCAS/AACOMAS?

  AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service, is a
  centralized program which works much like the "Common Application"
  that you may have seen in high school (for applying to college).
  Run by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), it
  consists of a form you fill out like an application, which is sent
  to AMCAS, processed, and then distributed to those medical schools
  you wish to apply.  In the past several years a computer-based
  version, AMCAS-E, has been developed.  See the AMCAS web page at
  <>.  AACOMAS, the
  American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application
  Service, is a similar service for osteopathic medical programs run
  by the AACOM <>.

3.4) How many schools should I apply to?

  Depends.  If you're 4.0 and 40+ on the MCAT, then probably you could
  apply to only one or two and get away with it.  There are stories of
  people who applied to 50 or 60 schools and didn't get into any.
  Most people apply to around 10, more if they feel their folder is a
  little weak, less if they think they've got a pretty solid record.

3.5) Which schools should I apply to?

  Your best bet is to think about where you'd like to go to school and
  apply there.  Remember: Wherever you go, not only will you be
  spending the next 4 years there, but also the odds are pretty good
  that you will do your residency there as well.  So don't pick
  someplace you'd never want to live.  Always apply to your state
  school, if you have one; most (if not all) state schools give
  preference to people who are state residents, and every little bit
  of help counts.  You should have 2-3 schools that are a real
  stretch--places you don't think you could get in to but places you'd
  love to go.  Try to find 1-2 places that you think you have an
  excellent shot at; your state school usually goes here.  And in the
  middle, 6 (or more) places that you think you'd be competitive at.
  Finally, don't discount D.O. schools (cf 3.7).

3.5a) What are good sources to help me choose?

  Your primary source should be your college's pre-medical advisor.
  Make an appointment with him/her early on--sophomore or junior year
  would be best.  Make sure he/she pulls your transcripts, etc. before
  you show up.  The two of you can talk about your strong and weak
  points, what you could do to boost your chances, and which schools
  you should apply to.  Also keep in mind that most pre-medical
  advisors send a letter along with your applications, so getting to
  know him/her will help get a more accurate letter for your file.

  The Internet is a good source.  Most medical schools have web sites
  that give lots of information, application requirements, etc.  In
  addition, post any questions, concerns, fears, or despairs to the Usenet group.  It's populated by lots of
  grizzled veterans who have been through this process (sometimes more
  than once) and can help you avoid the pitfalls.

  Another essential source is the MSAR (cf 1.4).

3.6) How expensive is it to apply?

  The AMCAS fee is about $45 for the first school, and $25 for each
  additional school.  When your AMCAS is processed, most schools will
  request "supplementary" information, and filing this will cost an
  additional $60-$125.  The AACOMAS fee is practically the same, and
  the cost for filing supplementary materials at osteopathic medical
  schools is also anywhere from $60 to $125.  Add in costs for the
  MCAT, flying to schools for interviews, hotels, and other expenses,
  and the total application cost can rise into the thousands of
  dollars depending on how many schools you apply to.

3.6a) Is there any way to make the application process cheaper?

  You can request from AMCAS a fee waiver, which covers the cost of
  AMCAS filing and supplementary filing fees for up to 10 medical
  schools.  Fee waivers are based on financial need, and many schools
  will waive their supplementary application fee (cf 3.6) if you have
  an AMCAS fee waiver.  The MCAT also offers a fee waiver program.

3.7) Should I apply to DO schools?

  Osteopathic medical schools have a reputation for "looking past the
  numbers" in their admissions process.  Consequently, the average
  accepted MCAT scores and GPA are a bit lower at DO schools.  If
  you're an academically borderline candidate, but have a competitive
  application overall, your chances for admission might be higher at
  DO schools.  Because most DO schools emphasize primary care
  medicine, they look very closely at an applicant's motivation for
  pursuing medicine and prior life experience.  The average age of
  matriculation tends to be higher at DO schools than MD schools.
  Students who want to practice an osteopathic approach to patient
  care are especially sought after; this means demonstrating an
  interest in hands-on medicine and a commitment to a holistic
  understanding of patient care issues, especially time spent with a

  There are two important points to consider if you're thinking of
  applying to DO schools.  First, DOs are minority physicians in the
  profession of medicine.  If you are uncomfortable being different,
  think that you'll always have to prove something because you're not
  an MD, or are likely to become frustrated having to explain what a
  DO is to new patients, then DO schools might not be right for you.
  Second, you might have a harder time competing for some of the
  "brand-name" MD residencies.  Many competitive MD residencies don't
  regard the additional training DO students receive as applicable to
  their particular area of medicine, and with keen competition for
  slots among MD applicants, they feel obliged to take their own
  first.  There are DO specialty residencies in everything ranging
  from aerospace medicine to otolaryngology, but these residencies
  tend to be concentrated in the eastern and mid-western United
  States.  Some students find the geographic limitations of these
  residencies unattractive.

  In short, some students have compared the kind of medical education
  DO schools offer to the kind of undergraduate education that smaller
  liberal arts colleges offer.  Both stress generalist skills and
  training.  Like the smaller undergraduate colleges, the research
  programs at DO schools tend to be smaller.  Consequently, the basic
  science faculty is usually more professionally involved in medical
  education than research.  However, it is difficult to make accurate
  generalizations because there is much variety in curricular programs
  offered by both MD and DO schools.  There are primary care oriented
  MD schools and research oriented DO schools.  The most prudent
  advice is to look at the curriculum and educational focus of each
  medical school on a case by case basis.

3.8) What is a secondary/supplementary?

  Secondary (also called supplementary) applications come in a variety
  of forms and typically are utilized only by schools using the AMCAS
  application (MD programs), or schools using the AACOMAS application
  (DO programs) rather than their own application.  Depending on the
  school, they may request no more than a check and signature to
  complete processing of your application, or they may ask you to
  provide additional information such as SAT scores and respond to
  several essay questions.

  A number of schools "screen" applicants prior to sending secondary
  applications.  This means that based on information (essay,
  biographical data, MCAT scores and GPA) provided by the applicant's
  AMCAS or AACOMAS application, the school decides whether or not to
  send a secondary application to the applicant.  Screening of
  applications at the secondary stage is not done by all schools; many
  schools have all applicants complete all application materials and
  then decide who to interview based on information contained in the
  primary and secondary applications.

  Information on application fees and whether a school uses secondary
  applications may be found in the MSAR (cf. 1.4).

3.9) What is an MD/PhD program?

  Students that are enrolled in combined MD/PhD programs pursue the MD
  and the PhD degrees concurrently.  Students can select from a number
  of fields in which to complete the PhD.  Although this field is
  typically a biomedical science (e.g., biochemistry, immunology),
  students in the past have combined their medical studies with
  research in engineering and the humanities.  Combined programs
  typically require 7-9 years to complete.  The first two years are
  typically spent on the basic science portion of the M.D. curriculum.
  The next three to five years are spent on full time PhD work.  The
  final two years of the combined program are spent on the clinical
  portion of the MD curriculum.  MD/PhD programs are eclectic by
  nature, however, and the course of study can be very individualized.

  Combined MD/PhD programs were initiated to train a cadre of academic
  medical scientists who could make fundamental scientific discoveries
  and then translate these discoveries into tools and knowledge that
  could be used at the bedside.  It is important to note that "doing
  it all", from the lab bench to the patient bedside, is extremely
  difficult.  Both caring for patients and running a research program
  are full time jobs in and of themselves!  Most MD/PhDs focus on
  either lab research or patient care to stay abreast of their fields
  and to remain competitive with their peers.  With that caveat,
  however, MD/PhD training has some benefits.

   Some good reasons to pursue an MD/PhD

    - You want to focus on clinical research and practice, but would 
      like rigorous research training
    - You want to focus on research, but want the perspective provided 
      by clinical training

   Bad reasons to pursue an MD/PhD
    - You want extra letters after your name
    - You want to save money (in the long run, you probably won't!)

  Ultimately, the decision to pursue an MD/PhD is a personal one.
  Think about the career goals you envision for yourself and whether
  they can be achieved with a single degree.  Consider talking with
  MD/PhDs who have careers similar to that which you envision for
  yourself.  Information on programs may be found at

3.9a) What are the different sources of funding for MD/PhD programs?

  1. Medical Scientist Training Program (at official NIH MSTP schools) 
  2. Other NIH funds (e.g., Human Genome Training Grant)
  3. School-Specific Funds (e.g., Franklin's scholars program at UPenn)
  4. Funds from special interest groups (e.g., funds for the study of
  5. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Funds

3.10) Should I enroll in a combined BS/MD program?

  BS/MD programs, or, more appropriately, college/MD programs, allow a
  high school student to apply to both college and medical school
  during the college application process.  If accepted, the student is
  assured a place in a medical school class, assuming she performs at
  an acceptable level.  While many of these programs only allow
  specific majors, some will allow any major, including those which
  award the BA.

  Thirty-six of these programs currently exist all across the United
  States, in sixteen states and the District of Columbia.  Program
  length generally varies from six to eight years, although the
  University of Wisconsin-Madison does allow extension to nine years.
  Admissions guidelines vary widely.  Some schools specifically state
  entrance requirements (e.g., the University of Medicine and
  Dentistry at New Jersey (Newark) expects that their applicants will
  be in the top five to ten percent of their class with a minimum
  combined SAT of 1400).  Most schools require program students to
  take the MCAT during their junior year of college.  Many require
  particular SAT II/Achievement tests, particularly those in chemistry
  and mathmatics.

  In essence, these programs are appropriate for the student who has
  already explored the field of medicine and is positive that it is
  appropriate for him.  While admissions criteria vary widely, they
  all insist that the student be academically superior.  As not all
  programs allow students to leave once they have matriculated into
  the program, the student must be sure that medicine is the right
  choice; those with any doubts are advised to consult their college
  or guidance counselor and consider applying to medical school
  "normally" in college if they then decide it is the correct choice.

  For more current information about combined college/MD programs,
  browse the Association of American Medical Colleges' web site at
  Students may also wish to read the AAMC's guide for high school
  students considering medical careers at

3.11) What are combined MD/MPH and DO/MPH programs?

  MPH stands for Masters in Public Health.  Public health is an
  interdisciplinary science of disease prevention.  Physicians who
  work in public health are called preventive medicine specialists.
  The MPH is the professional degree for those interested in a career
  in public health or preventive medicine; MPH degree programs usually
  require approximately 50 additional semester hours of coursework in
  areas such as biostatistics, epidemiology, health behavior, and
  health economics.  Many programs offer opportunities for
  specialization in areas such as toxicology, environmental health,
  epidemiology, and health administration.

  It is not uncommon for medical schools to offer dual degree programs
  for medical students seeking public health training.  This may add
  an additional year or two onto medical school.  Usually students in
  dual degree program complete the first two years of medical school
  and then proceed to their MPH work before finishing the last two
  years, though some break up school between the third and fourth
  years.  Some programs allow students to take MPH classes in addition
  to their medical school classes to shorten the length of the

  For more information, see the web sites for the American College of
  Preventive Medicine <> and the American Public
  Health Association <>.

3.12) Can you tell me about combined MD/MBA programs?

  Ten schools offer the combined MD/MBA program.  They are: UCLA,
  U. of Chicago-Pritzker, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
  Dartmouth, Wake Forest, Case Western, Allegheny, Jefferson, U of
  Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt.  This list of schools, with direct
  links to them, can be found at
  <>.  Many
  programs run as two years of medical school, one year of graduate
  (MBA) school, then a return to medical school for the final two
  years of medical curriculum and completion of MBA material, for a
  total of five years.  However, there are variances in application
  processes and program details.  For example, UCLA opens its program
  only to third-year UCLA medical students, who then take a year off
  for the MBA program and complete the MBA program during the fourth
  year of medical school.  Application procedures vary by school, so
  your best bet is to contact the admissions department directly and
  ask for information on the program.

3.13) Can you tell me about combined MD/JD programs?

  Seven schools offer the combined MD/JD program.  They are: Yale,
  U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U. of Chicago-Pritzker, Southern
  Illinois U., Duke, Penn, and West Virgina U.  This list of schools,
  with direct links to them, can be found at
  <>.  Program
  details are highly variable.  One common method of integrating the
  two programs is to have the student complete two years of medical
  school, two years of law school, then complete law school during the
  final two years of medical school for a total of six years.
  Applications are generally accepted both from first-time applicants
  and current students from each individual program; however, as
  always, the best information about a particular school can be
  obtained by contacting the school's admissions office.

3.14) What are PAs?

  Physician assistants, or PAs, provide medical care under the
  supervision of licensed physicians.  For information regarding the
  PA profession and educational programs, see the web page of the
  American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) at
  <>.  Another resource is the Usenet newsgroup

3.15) Should I consider going to a foreign school?  

  Attending a foreign medical school is a tricky situation.  On the
  one hand, you have the opportunity of attending medical school and
  graduating with a M.D. degree, but on the other hand, your
  opportunities for practice in the U.S. are severely limited.
  Because of legislation, International Medical Graduates
  (IMGs)--students who obtain their M.D. outside the U.S.--are being
  scapegoated for the country's oversupply of physicians and their
  acceptance into U.S. residency training programs is being scaled
  back.  This means that the IMG who does enter the US for residency
  training generally must score very high on the USMLE and the new
  Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) examination, which is only
  administered to IMGs (cf 7.10, 7.11).

  The education may or may not be inferior, depending on the foreign
  school you wish to attend, but whatever the case, attending a
  foreign school is going to be expensive.  Student aid from the
  U.S. may not be so easy to come by, and you may have to spend more
  time in school because of the difference in curricula.  Take, for
  example, the system of medical education in Australia versus the
  United States.  In the US, students go through four years of
  undergraduate college to earn a Bachelors degree and then go on for
  another four years in medical school for the medical degree.  In
  Australia, students go into a medical program as high school
  graduates and earn a Bachelors in Medicine and a Bachelors in
  Surgery in six years.  This means that a US college graduate who
  wishes to attend medical school in Australia will have to spend an
  additional two years because of the medical curriculum in Australia,
  which translates into higher costs.

  Think about your decision to apply to a foreign medical school
  carefully.  Not all are reputable, and boasting a World Health
  Organization (WHO) listing is not at all impressive.  Not all
  foreign medical schools offer a solid medical education, which of
  course does not preclude those that do.  Speak to your premedical
  advisor and, if possible, any students at the schools that you

[end of Part 1]

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Dec 17, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
am a neurosurgery residence in Russia .i want to get an advice from u.Did i still have the chance to be a surgeon in US ?what am i surpose to do .should i stop the residence and prepare for USMLE,or i should continue and write USMLE after it all.. will i be accepted in US medical programme

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Top Document: Medical Education FAQ [1/2] ( FAQ) [v2.6]
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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM